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Thursday 15 March 2012

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Why Jeffrey Archer’s books should be banned

Jerry Hayes

Jeffrey Archer is a menace. His books should be pulped and an Act of Parliament passed to ban their sale. They are the Maltesers of publishing. Once you’ve started one you can’t finish until you’ve scoffed the whole lot.

And that can be very troubling. I missed stations, was late for meetings and kept the wife awake reading his last book, Only Time will Tell. The new sequel, The Sins of the Father, is no exception. It will keep your blood pressure high and you’ll risk back injury just from being kept on the edge of your seat.

You may recall that, when I reviewed Only Time Will Tell, I revealed it finished on a spectacular twist of plot. Our hero, blown up at sea by the Germans, thinks it would be a cunning plan to take a dead colleague’s identity, only to land in New York and be arrested for murder. He’d chosen the wrong guy.

Of course, he is innocent but corrupt lawyer Sefton Jelks (who is so crooked that if he swallowed a nail he’d pass a corkscrew), wicked prison wardens and the Nazis cause him one or two scalp-tingling adventures.

This is a novel in itself. But, oh no, Archer has to be greedy. There are at least three other subplots going on.

Our hero can’t marry the mother of his child because she might be his sister. His mother, Maisie, has tale too: she’s forced into prostitution because of her former lover, the evil Sir Hugo Barrington, who could be her son’s father, which could lead to problems of inheritance.

I have no doubt that Sir Hugo will go down as one of literature’s great villains. He oozes menace, spits venom and is a bully and a coward. No slight is too small to inspire horrible revenge, whether it’s a sound thrashing, forced bankruptcy or murder.

If Sins of the Father is made into a movie (as I hope it will be) actors will be queuing up to portray this loathsome creature.

And, just when you think a plotline is about to reach a predictable conclusion, Archer shows you you really haven’t a clue how it will be resolved.

And the final chapter? Well, I won’t spoil it, but most of the cast arrive in the House of Lords for a cliff-hanger paternity debate.

Now, I know some of you turn your noses up at the mere thought of picking up, let alone reading, a Jeffrey Archer novel. Well, I have no sympathy: it’s your loss.

I guarantee that anyone who takes this book from the shelves will not be able to put it down.

The Sins of the Father is published on 15th March.

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Comments

March 11th, 2012 7:37pm

salieri

Serious question: why is anyone called Hugo always the villain?

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March 11th, 2012 7:41pm

Gilbert Fiddler

I won't ever read any of his books again, because he's the sort of man who is arrogant, unpleasant to the public, cheating (proven) and generally not worthy of my few pounds to pay for his future existence.

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March 11th, 2012 8:14pm

Fergus Pickering

Well, if an author has to be a nice guy that rather cuts down on one's reading matter.

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March 11th, 2012 11:04pm

Jeremy

You've got a point, Fergus. I mean, Lord Byron was hardly a saint, but I've still read some of his poetry. And I dare say that I will be doing so again.

Lord Archer is Lord Archer, and that's fair enough. I would neither hold it against him, nor his prose.

The worst villains are the pietistic manipulators of the crowd - like Bono.

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March 12th, 2012 12:24am

Colin Cumner

Well I've read two of his novels - admittedly early on in his writing career - and thought they were trash. Maybe he's improved over the years but somehow I can't summon up the curiosity or enthusiasm to find out.

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March 12th, 2012 12:30am

Frank P

Obviously Jeffrey is spreading the old largesse again,Jerry, and you're no doubt on the top of his list, given this puff.

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March 12th, 2012 2:39am

Narayan Radhakrishnan

Great article. I am reading SINS OF THE FATHER and frankly am glued to the book. I agree with the author- Archer works should be banned, it affects my sleep, cant concentrate on anything else and pretty much affects one's daily routine.
Narayan Radhakrinshan

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March 12th, 2012 9:34am

RKing

Oh My God!!

Someone admits to reading Archer......... ........personally I would prefer the Beano!!

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March 12th, 2012 3:37pm

The Engineer

Rather strange: someone called 'Fiddler' complaining that Jeffrey is a cheat!

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March 12th, 2012 11:08pm

Jeremy

@The Engineer:

That was the joke I was looking for, but couldn't find.

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March 13th, 2012 8:53am

Julie Walker

Archer's books are "holiday" reads - but he has already used this "same father" plot in, I think, A Matter of Honour. A matter of pride, perhaps, to use a novel storyline?

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March 13th, 2012 2:45pm

Andrew F Giles

Not the most original of titles. Allan Massie used it first in 1991, albeit in double plural. Massie's 'Sins of the Fathers' caused a hoo-hah when Nicholas Mosley (himself born of controversy) resigned from the panel for the Booker, protesting that none of his books (Massie's was his favourite) made it on to the shortlist...

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March 13th, 2012 3:10pm

Andrew F Giles

I was wrong - they both have the same title.

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